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The past few years have seen an emergence of populist leaders around the world, who have not only accrued but also maintained support despite rampant criticism, governance failures, and the ongoing COVID pandemic. The Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte is the best illustration of this trend, with approval ratings rarely dipping below 80 percent. What explains his high levels of robust public support? We argue that Duterte is an ethnopopulist who uses ethnic appeals in combination with insider vs. outsider rhetoric to garner and maintain public support. Moreover, we argue that ethnic affiliation is a main driver of support for Duterte, and more important than alternative factors such as age, education, gender, or urban vs. rural divides. We provide evidence of Duterte's marriage of ethnic and populist appeals, then evaluate whether ethnicity predicts support for Duterte, using 15 rounds of nationally representative public opinion data. Identifying with a non-Tagalog ethnicity (like Duterte) leads to an 8 percent increase in approval for Duterte, significantly larger than any other explanatory factor. Among Duterte supporters, a non-Tagalog ethnicity is associated with 19 percent increase in strong versus mild support. Ethnicity is the only positive and significant result, suggesting that it strongly explains why Duterte's support remains robust. Alternative explanations, such as social desirability bias and alternative policy considerations, do not explain our results.
Research in legislative politics suggests that the desire to get reelected encourages legislators to “bring home the pork”—by delivering electorally rewarding, targeted spending. This is particularly true where the electoral system encourages incumbents to cultivate a personal vote. We analyze how Philippine Senators spend their Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and using the staggered elections to identify variation in reelection status, we show that senatorial reelectionists do not always bring home the pork. Because Philippine Senators are elected by plurality-at-large voting by the national electorate, they tend to spend their CDF allotments closer to elections but avoid allocating them disproportionately to their local strongholds. These findings illustrate how electoral rules can deter targeted spending but lead legislators to find alternative ways to build a personal vote.
Chapter 9 concludes Mobilizing for Elections by reiterating the volume’s core arguments and contributions, then by exploring the potential extension of its framework to other cases, including the possibility of expanding the typology of electoral mobilization regimes. Next, it reviews the implications of the book’s findings for democratic governance and discusses the opportunities for and limits of reform measures with potential to curtail patronage politics and improve the quality of democracy, including electoral-system reform to help shift polities from a candidate-centric to a party-centric focus. Additional reforms are also important, whether promoting bureaucratic capacity and autonomy or creating a more level electoral playing field.
Chapter 6 focuses on macro-particularism – the hijacking of programmatic policies. It highlights the difficulty of drawing a clear line between programmatic and patronage politics. It explains three forms of macro-particularism: credit-claiming (when a politician claims their individual intervention was critical to delivering a benefit to an individual or group); facilitation (when the politician actually does intervene to ensure delivery); and morselization (when the politicians breaks a program into bite-sized chunks and allocates them according to political criteria). The chapter explains that the three case-study countries present different mixes of these forms. Hijacking under Malaysia’s party-dominated system lacks incentives to allow morselization and so hijacking mostly involves credit-claiming and facilitation of benefits provided by the dominant party. The deeply entrenched local machines of the Philippines represent a system founded on discretion, hence, more morselization. Indonesia is mixed: some politicians, notably regional executives, enjoy discretion in allocating resources; legislators are still trying to expand access to state resources for hijacking.
Chapter 4 focuses on micro-particularism: distribution of money, goods, or services to individual voters and households in hopes of obtaining their electoral support. The chapter finds this practice is extremely common in Indonesia and the Philippines but is not entirely absent in Malaysia (especially East Malaysia). The micro-particularistic practice given the greatest attention in the literature is cash handouts; the chapter confirms that candidates in the Philippines and Indonesia devote much attention to how to distribute cash effectively. Despite the ubiquity of the term “vote buying,” the chapter finds that micro-particularism rarely involves straightforward market transactions, either in how disbursement is expressed culturally or in anticipated outcomes: these payments are generally not contingent patronage. The chapter reveals that candidates find cash handouts most valuable as a means of signaling that they are serious contenders (a process the chapter calls credibility buying) and protecting their presumed turf; most voters being targeted have, at best, tenuous loyalties to the candidates targeting them.
This chapter provides a historical-institutional account of the emergence of distinct electoral mobilization regimes in Southeast Asia. It does so by surveying the sequencing and development of the bureaucracy, parties, and electoral systems across Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In the Philippines, the focus is the early twentieth century, when US colonial authorities introduced elections before establishing a strong bureaucracy, enabling elite families to capture power and build local machines. Malaysia's regime is traced to its transition to independence and rise of an ethnically defined party that subordinated the bureaucracy to its patronage purposes. And in Indonesia, the key era is authoritarian rule in 1966–98, when patronage was centralized in the bureaucracy and parties marginalized. Over time, electoral and bureaucratic reform have tempered, but not displaced, those legacies. Only through comparative analysis of historical patterns of state–society relations, the chapter shows, can we understand cross-national differences in patronage and the networks through which it flows. The chapter also provides key context for readers unfamiliar with Southeast Asia.
This chapter focuses on how patronage politics interacts with the politics of identity, notably ethnicity, religion, gender, and class, across Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The chapter highlights rich variety of forms of patronage politics across these categories, co-existing with underlying similarity in function. Politicians cater to a wide range of social identities and target varied identity groups with patronage, showing immense creativity when doing so. But the underlying goal of such politicians across our highly diverse, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious contexts is fundamentally the same: to capture more votes using offers or promises of patronage. This instrumental process generally reinforces rather than erodes existing social identities (except, the chapter points out, those based on class, which clientelist politics tends to undermine by connecting lower-class recipients of patronage to higher-status dispensers of it). Even so, particularly where electoral systems encourage broadly inclusive strategies, patronage distribution regularly crosses identity-group boundaries and thus tends to bridge divides rather than promoting deeper within-group bonding.
This chapter examines the three distinct types of networks used for patronage distribution and election campaigning in the primary Southeast Asian countries studied in the volume: a party-based national patronage machine in Malaysia, local machines in the Philippines, and ad hoc patronage networks in Indonesia. In each case—albeit in different ways and with varying degrees of effectiveness—these networks play critical roles in helping politicians to recruit, organize, and reward their brokers; coordinate access to patronage; and manage campaign activities. A further common feature of these networks is their resemblance to the classic brokerage pyramid associated with clientelistic politics. On closer examination, however, the chapter finds they differ significantly in terms of their geographic scope and degree of institutionalization or permanence. The chapter considers how these distinct network types map onto the three major types of patronage to produce distinct electoral mobilization regimes and demonstrates how differences across these regimes stem from historical antecedents and institutional environments.
This chapter analyses variation in patronage politics at the subnational level in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Variation is apparent at two extremes: locales where politicians rely more intensely on patronage, often combining it with coercion; and “islands of exception,” generally urban areas, where programmatic appeals supplement or begin to supplant patronage. Explaining this variation, the chapter focuses on three variables: concentration of control over economic resources, levels of capacity of local state institutions, and relative autonomy and egalitarianism of local social networks. The mix of these three factors can provide politicians and citizens with options to escape the cycle of patronage politics, or may deepen citizens’ dependence on patronage and vulnerability to predatory politicians. These variables help explain subnational variation, including intense patronage relative to the rest of the country (e.g., in East Malaysia and Indonesian Papua), high coercion (e.g., in the Philippines’ Mindanao), and urban reform movements that push toward programmatic politics (e.g., in Penang in Malaysia, Surabaya in Indonesia, and Naga City in the Philippines).
Chapter 5 examines the patronage type found most consistently across Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines: meso-particularism (commonly called pork, club goods, or local public goods). This involves distribution of patronage to groups. The chapter distinguishes groups targeted with such patronage: networks of affect orient around religious, cultural, or other social purposes; networks of benefit are tied to income-generating, employment, or other material needs. The chapter explains when and how community-level elected officials act as key brokers in these exchanges. It identifies four reasons why candidates adopt meso-particularism: (1) it is less costly than dispensing cash or other individual patronage to voters; (2) it carries less social and legal stigma; (3) it allows politicians to provide benefits throughout the electoral cycle; (4) it promotes monitoring by focusing on groups rather than individuals. The chapter shows that meso-particularism rarely involves a clear quid pro quo; its value is in building a brand, buying credibility, and protecting turf. It involves contingent patronage only when candidates deal with group leaders able reliably to deliver followers’ votes.